Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 10
Zzamas (that's apparently what the creepy spider lady's name is) turns out to have quite… interesting enemies. Gelros showed up in the morning; apparently he had made it most of the way to us the day before but needed some help from our main camp at locating our forward post. In any case, he spoke at length with Zzamas and a few things were decided.
We followed Zzamas to her "home", which is apparently a large stone obelisk glowing faintly with magical energy in the middle of an otherwise barren field. Apparently it looks better in the ethereal plane? I don't know. Looked fairly forboding and inhospitable from this side. After some consultation with Zzamas, it became apparent that we had no way of engaging the Xill (the ant-creatures who you will soon meet), because they live on the Ethereal plane and we on the Material plane, although these planes coexist in space? This morning has been a crash course in interplanar geography from Gelros. It makes my head hurt.
As it turns out, we didn't have to wait long, because the Xill apparently thought we were an opportunity. We asked Zzamas to scout for them. She obliged, disappearing into thin air (plane shifting, I suppose), and reappeared moments later with a warning: "Careful friends! They are all around you!" Naturally, this put us all on alert. The enemy ambushed us moments later, popping into existence in a semicircle around our position. But seeing as we were ready for them, the ambush was less successful than it might otherwise have been.
Nevertheless, what ensued was one of the more horrific military skirmishes I have ever participated in. The Xill are monstrous: all insectisoid arms and legs, with beady eyes and large mandibles. Also swords. In what has become a depressing theme in recent combats, one bit me as Bessie and I tried to overrun its' comrade to escape. And promptly paralyzed me. I must be losing my edge. In fairness, nearly the same thing happened to Kris. So within a few seconds, two of us were down for the count. (As I would find out, Xill poison lasts for hours.)
But what came next was worse. While we were paralyzed, the Xill deployed some kind of proboscus and implanted (shudder) eggs into our chest cavities. Eggs! And you thought regular maggots were bad. Ugh. The worst part of this was being fully conscious throughout the whole thing.
Somehow, I was still in the saddle (thank you Bessie!) and, mercifully, Bessie ran away at this point, leaving the combat behind. So the rest of the combat I will relate as told to me by Gelros and Shella.
After Bessie hauled… horse? off the battlefield, Shella and the others slew several of the Xill. The remaining Xill decided to retreat, and decided that Kris should come with them. In fact, they almost succeeded. As they faded from this plane of existance, Zzamas transported Jaric through to the ethereal plane, where he dispatched the stragglers and recovered the still immobilized Kris. They seem to be none the worse for wear, apart from the, um, eggs, and the fact that Jaric lost all his fingernails in transit.
About those eggs: after some consultation with Zzamas (which, at the time, I could hear but mercifully not respond to), Jaric and Gelros concluded that they could either cut them out one at a time (yikes!) or use magical disease removal. Thankfully, Jaric opted for the latter. At that is about all I want to say about the experience. We wrapped up with Zzamas shortly after. She delivered her ancient shiny treasure chest, as promised, Gelros negotiated some kind of loose alliance, and we were on our way.
Kingdom of Arboria, Year 2, Month 11
It feels good to be back in town for a few days! Since Zzamas and her interplanar egg-injecting friends, we've been tying up loose ends. In fact, this is our second trip back to town since then. On our first trip back, we explored Lake Silverstep, and Shella and I decided to stay behind for a few days to catch a few of its famed eels for the gentlemen that wanted them. Those things are slippery, let me tell you, and I'm not referring to their skin.
Upon our return, there was quite a ruckus. Let me sum up:
- We delivered not one, not two, but three roc eggs to the self-proclaimed Omelet King. He did, indeed, make a regal omelet with them, and it garnered about as much public attention as actual visiting royalty would have.
- We delivered the eels to slightly less fanfare, but the eel pie was tasty and seems to have had a minor but persistent beneficial effect on my health.
- We delivered the spider silk, which has helped boost the Arborian economy.
- After much research, we decided to return the relic SkyBolt to the centaur (as, apparently, it is of their ancient culture) in an attempt to barter for some kind of truce.
Ok, about that last bullet: I think we got more than we bargained for. SkyBolt was indeed well-received by the centaur clan. They were at first hostile, suspicious, and skeptical (who can blame them?), but the relic won them over. Still, their leader, who goes by the title Mother Moon, would not consider SkyBolt a negotiating chip. Instead, for peace, Gelros was forced to agree that we would seek to find and return her missing daughter, Xamanthe, who had been posted to watch the Valley of the Dead (cheery sounding place!). The safe return of Xamanthe will guarantee us acceptance into the centaur tribe. Which either involves a peace treaty or a really wild party; I'm not sure which.
In any case, Mother Moon warned that in the Valley of the Dead an ancient evil, known by the name Vordekai (not coincidentally, the name of the cyclopean demigod in that text of Pendrod's that Gelros found), might, just might, be waking up. So, naturally, we agreed to go. (To be fair, I suppose this might also solve the mystery of Varynhold, which is still hanging like a damp cloud over settlement efforts to the east.) However, seeing as the place is called The Valley of the Dead, it seemed wise to prepare. Which we have, and we depart with our entourage tomorrow.
- Completed Ghost Stone War quest (7200 XP)
- Defeating Xill (12,000 XP)
- Explore hex (7,10) (150 XP)
- Explore hex (7,8) (150 XP)
- Completed The Omelet King quest (7,200 XP)
- Completed Wanted: Spidersilk quest (7,200 XP)
- Completed MMM Eels! quest (7,200 XP)
- Explore hex (5,11) (150 XP)
- Explore hex (5,12) (150 XP)
- Return Skybolt to the centaur (7,200 XP)
- Gold chest worth 5000 GP (by itself!) with contents…
- Spellbook (6 spells at each of levels 1-5)
- Wand of Dimension Door (22 charges)
- Scroll of Haste
- Scroll of Blink
- Scroll of Magic Missile (caster level 3)
- Headband of Intellect +2
- Cloak of Resistance +2
- Handy Haversack
- +2 Buckler
- Mithril falchion
+1 permanent HP for each character for sampling the eel pie